I decided to head well to the west so drove along
the A40, passing Carmarthen. Skies here were
getting to be quite threatening. A detour to the
coast at Tenby proved a mistake as the road ran
mostly along a deep wooded valley so I turned N
again, through Narberth to the A40.....
....meanwhile, to my E, S
and SW, the hoped-for line of convection had
exploded into life. This is taken looking back E
on the A40. The whole lot was drifting NW in the
SE-erly steering flow. What to do next? Certainly
the A40 is far too busy for safe storm-chasing: I
needed a safe stopping point with a better view.
Out with the OS map and I noted a B-road running
up over the Prescelli hills from Haverfordwest to
Cardigan. This would do nicely!
With clear skies to the north and this following
me up from the south I was in good time. This was
taken halfway to the hills. Here I heard the
first rumbles of thunder. Just a better
vantage-point required now....
...which was reached with time to spare. This is
a wide-angle (28mm) shot of the storm growling
along between Narberth and Haverfordwest. Tripod
and telephoto time!
200mm tripod shot of the approaching storm on its
way towards the refineries at Milford Haven. They
made an excellent almost silhouetted foreground.
Now it was just a matter of waiting....
...between the chimneys and the torrential rain
of the storm's core an interesting lowering was
present. For a moment I thought this might be a
wall-cloud - i.e. a rotating area of inflow into
the storm - although in a strange place on its
The situation soon clarified itself as the
feature approached the chimneys! Compare what the
smoke's doing in this one to the shot above!
Being blown forcefully and horizontally outwards
from the storm-cloud! It was a gust-front seen
Scud-cloud was continuously forming, dissipating
and breaking away from the ominous cloudbase.
Sometimes these scud formations looked like
little funnel-clouds. They weren't though! When
looking at cloudbases from this distance, always
have decent binoculars with you. You can soon
tell a genuuine funnel-cloud from a
"scud-funnel" as they're known!
Another example. Look carefully at its position
relative to the chimneys before going to the next
image in the sequence of slides, added December
1st 2005 - below!
This however is the real thing, just about
visible through the rain to the left of the
chimneys. According to my notes posted to the UK
Weatherworld forum on the evening of April 19th:
"not much happened vortex-wise except for
one possible but unconfirmable funnel that I
watched through binoculars behind too many shafts
of torrential rain. It looked to be one but I
cannot be certain!" This must have been it I
You see, I have to confess that I only found this
image upon going back through the slides, while
looking for something else altogether, on a cold
late November afternoon! I must have dismissed it
too quickly the first time around when I put this
page together - I certainly cannot recall being
that impressed at the time! Let's try some
digital enhancement now in Photoshop:
Clearly a funnel-cloud with strong, smooth sides.
Its position within the storm appears to be on
its SW side, with the precipitation between it
and me. Vortices like this are particularly
dangerous if they are on the
ground - this is where the
phrase "rain-wrapped tornado" comes
from - as you have no advance warning that one
might be approaching....
Back to the original storyline - with the next
storm to the S eventually threatening to engulf
my vantage point, I headed north and down the
other side of the Prescelli hills. Here the anvil
of the storm I had just been photographing
stretches out to the north over the clear air,
indicating high winds aloft - a good supporting
feature for thunderstorm development and
....meanwhile, back to the south the next storm
was starting to appear over the ridge. Here I was
in an area of winding roads and sunken lanes -
the beautiful countryside of North Pembrokeshire
- but difficult in terms of vantage points. I
searched and searched and searched....
...as the storm headed on towards me. Lightning
flickered behind the developing gust-front, in
the again torrential precipitation beyond...
....I first found one gateway...
...then a bit of road with a view, moving
slightly north each time to try and keep ahead of
...finally having to lose it here, with lightning
getting close and the view to be obscured soon!
The road-signs rather sum this area up as
chase-country and to have more success some
serious reconnaisance will have to be done.
Getting clear of this storm, I was alarmed to see
an absolute monster of a cell straight ahead.
This I met at Cardigan and managed to keep just
ahead of the main core (which totally obscured
visibility), driving through still heavy rain all
the way up to the Newquay turn-off at Synod Inn.
By now it was evening and convection was decaying
as the cells ran out over Cardigan Bay. I settled
down to the last 40 miles of the 200+ miles I had
driven that day, fairly satisfied with the
results, a little frustrated regarding vantage
points, but pleased with my forecasting (for a
change!) and my strategy. I shall return to SW
Wales and concentrate on finding a network of
vantage points where it's safe to stop. The
landscapes are beautiful in this area and so are
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